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The Revenge of Gaia [Hardcover]

James Lovelock
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

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Book Description

13 Jun 2006
In "The Revenge of Gaia," bestselling author James Lovelock- father of climate studies and originator of the influential Gaia theory which views the entire earth as a living meta-organism-provides a definitive look at our imminent global crisis. In this disturbing new book, Lovelock guides us toward a hard reality: soon, we may not be able to alter the oncoming climate crisis. Lovelock's influential Gaia theory, one of the building blocks of modern climate science, conceives of the Earth, including the atmosphere, oceans, biosphere and upper layers of rock, as a single living super-organism, regulating its internal environment much as an animal regulates its body temperature and chemical balance. But now, says Lovelock, that organism is sick. It is running a fever born of the combination of a sun whose intensity is slowly growing over millions of years, and an atmosphere whose greenhouse gases have recently spiked due to human activity. Earth will adjust to these stresses, but on time scales measured in the hundreds of millennia. It is already too late, Lovelock says, to prevent the global climate from "flipping" into an entirely new equilibrium state that will leave the tropics uninhabitable, and force migration to the poles. "The Revenge of Gaia" explains the stress the planetary system is under and how humans are contributing to it, what the consequences will be, and what humanity must do to rescue itself.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Printing edition (13 Jun 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 046504168X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465041688
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 15.2 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,372,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Lovelock is the author of more than 200 scientific papers and the originator of the Gaia Hypothesis (now Gaia Theory). He has written four books on the subject: Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, The Ages of Gaia and Gaia: The Practical Science of Planetary Medicine, as well as an autobiography, Homage to Gaia. His most recent was The Revenge of Gaia (Allen Lane, 2006). In 2003 he was made a Companion of Honour by Her Majesty the Queen, and in September 2005 Prospect magazine named him as one of the world's top 100 global public intellectuals. In April 2006 he was awarded the Edinburgh Medal at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Product Description

Review

"Lovelock will go down in history as the scientist who changed our view of the Earth.... ÝThe Revenge of Gaia is the most important book ever to be published on the environmental crisis." -- John Gray --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

James Lovelock is the author of more than 200 scientific papers and the originator of the Gaia Hypothesis (now Gaia Theory). He has written three books on the subject: Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, The Ages of Gaia and Gaia: The Practical Science of Planetary Medicine, as well as an autobiography, Homage to Gaia. In 2003 he was made a Companion of Honour by Her Majesty the Queen, and in September 2005 Prospect magazine named him as one of the world's top 100 global public intellectuals. In April 2006 he was awarded the Edinburgh Medal at the Edinburgh International Science Festival. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
As always, bad events usurp the news agenda, and as I write in the comfort of my Devon home, the New Orleans catastrophe fills the television screens and front pages. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading 11 April 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We should salute the (now) 89 -year-old author, James Ephraim Lovelock (Ephraim is Hebrew for fruitful): an independent, dissenting voice in science. Rebelling against reductionist philosophies, he took an inclusive, systems view of the planet, publishing his Gaia Hypothesis in 1970. It took over 30 years for the international scientific community to come round.

Having studied chemistry at Manchester U and received his PhD in medicine at London U, Lovelock was engaged in the 1960s by NASA to find ways to detect life on Mars. He realized that life would influence the atmosphere and designed an instrument to detect trace gases. Thinking about the reason why Mars is so barren and Earth so fruitful, he arrived at his Hypothesis.

In brief the Hypothesis stated that the Earth is not just a rock that happens to have things living on it: it is a complex interacting system of soil, sea, atmosphere and living things that shows a tendency to keep itself stable in a way that supports life. In particular this complex web has acted to hold temperature within a narrow range over hundreds of millions of years even as the sun warms and the planet wobbles in its orbit.

Lovelock calls this system Gaia after the ancient Greek goddess of the Earth and persists in referring to Gaia as a person who acts with intent. Some find this annoying and unscientific. This reader accepts it as poetry and metaphor.

In summary, in his latest book, Lovelock revisits his Hypothesis and argues that:

1. Not only is climate change an impending disaster but an irreversible tipping point may already have been reached
2. The single most important step to take now is a major switch to nuclear power
3.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Biggest Issue we are facing 2 Mar 2006
Format:Hardcover
I was drawn to this book after hearing James Lovelock talking on Start the Week about the climate change we are facing and his proposed solutions.
This is a very good book and well worth reading. Lovelock exposes the full scale of the climate change situation we are facing and tries to bring the many disparate voices of the green movement into one clear direction that at least has a chance of preventing irreversible climate change.
Lovelock doesn't tries to bring in all the different ways in which we damage the planet and unlike many in the green movement doesn't take it as read that traditionally "green" ways of living are necessarility good for the planet. Specifically the misleading scientific results that present traditional "non-green" activities is a poor light.
One of the most interesting points for me was that the human obsession with reducing certain risks (from radiation, chemicals in food etc) to the bare minimum could well be the things that avoid us from saving the climate in which we live.
As Lovelock pointed out on the radio, if not in this book, the opportunities to avert irreversible climate change are rapidly running out and the risks from a nuclear power station are as nothing to the risks from permanent climate change.
Other reviwers have suggested that Lovelock might be looking at this from a UK perspective. I disagree. He's clearly looking from a world view and references he makes to the Devon countryside where he lives are not central to his argument. The people to suffer most from global warming will be some of the poorest in the world. His suggestion about nuclear power is only fair. We use the energy so we should bear the negative consequences of it's generation.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and enlightening if a little sparse 2 Feb 2006
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I bought this book last night and had it finished within a few short hours. This is at the same time a compliment and a complaint. A compliment because it was a very good read and certainly made me want to keep reading. A complaint in that it is a very short book which is light in many areas. The overall Gaia theory is beautiful in its simplicity.
This book lays out how we have pushed the Earth so far and that it may well be too late to save our civilisation, not just in the West but world wide. It summarises the present understanding of Global Warming, previous climate change and where the world is heading now. The Author also delves into the potential solutions and gives some bad news to the proponents of renewable energy. It looks like they just won't be up to the job.
Anyway I highly recomend this book but be aware that it is light in detail.
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62 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Gaia, that self-regulating system consisting of the atmosphere, living things and the ecosystems that contain them, the oceans and the underlying rocks, is in danger. Such is the warning given us by James Lovelock.

The regulation works through what are called 'feedback' mechanisms, and in the glossary at the end of the book Lovelock gives an explanatory example of such mechanisms:

If the car we are driving deviates from the intended path, we adjust the wheels to try to cancel the deviation. The power steering amplifies our action (negative feedback). But if the steering mechanism was faulty and it increased the car's deviation from the chosen path, the initial error would be amplified (positive feedback).

The earth remains a suitable place for man and other living organisms through negative feedback. Unfortunately, the balance of Gaia is now being disturbed by positive feedback mechanisms: One example given by Lovelock concerns the melting of snow on land. This snow reflects almost all the sunlight that reaches it and thus helps to keep the world cool. But as the snow melts at the edges, the dark ground that is then at the surface absorbs much of the sunlight and gets warmer. The increase in ground warmth accelerates further snow melting.

Lovelock says that nearly all the processes that affect the climate of the earth are now in positive feedback, and he gives six examples of these processes. Together, these processes are likely to push Gaia quite suddenly from its present equilibrium to an equilibrium at a much hotter state, and this change beyond what Lovelock calls a 'tipping point' may occur soon.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good book.
Published 2 days ago by Jack Grimes
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
GREAT MANY THANKS
Published 21 days ago by yvonne
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book, but one I think few will follow
The book itself is really good, I don't agree with everything that James Lovelock writes (I'm not a fan of nuclear energy) but I do appreciate why he believes the things he does. Read more
Published 2 months ago by boots-2000
4.0 out of 5 stars great stuff
Prompt delivery, great stuff thanks
Published 2 months ago by V Albani
5.0 out of 5 stars The real information from a true independent
Beautifully written and full of facts, not opinions. Interesting facts worth knowing. Makes our energy options very clear. A bit too clear.
Published 5 months ago by I. Yusuf
5.0 out of 5 stars Reasons for reading this excellent book.
The book explodes the myth of the effort to produce sufficient power without a Nuclear source.With the increase in population
globally, and the consequent need for extra... Read more
Published 8 months ago by brendan skelly
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating
I'm a huge fan of James Lovelock and think his books should be compulsory reading for everyone. This like all the other's is captivating and frightening in equal measures. Read more
Published 14 months ago by CS
5.0 out of 5 stars You really ought to read this...
This is not a comfortable read, but should be an essential one, particularly for politicians and journalists who persist with the myth that an abstract concept like the economy is... Read more
Published 24 months ago by J. A. Ravey
2.0 out of 5 stars This Book Scares Me!
But not for the obvious reasons of being informed of climate change (I was already fully aware of the facts on that). No, for the following reasons... Read more
Published on 31 Aug 2012 by Ms. C. A. Oliver
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading
This work is up to Lovelock's usual high standards, very factual, well researched and succinct written in a language that can be understood by the widest audience. Read more
Published on 15 Jan 2012 by B. Browne
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